Lewis Hamilton admits there was a moment during the US Grand Prix when he thought he could emerge from the race victorious.
The Mercedes driver held the lead late on, after Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who was the long-time race leader, had a slow pit stop that dropped him back to third behind Charles Leclerc.
However, after dispatching Leclerc, Verstappen set after Hamilton and with just a handful of laps remaining, he made the race-winning overtake.
Hamilton is still without a race win in 2022 despite coming close on a handful of occasions.
“It felt amazing to even just be in shooting distance of Max for some points of the race,” Hamilton said. “We really didn’t know what our pace was going to be like today.
“I think in the first stint he was controlling the pace and it was very difficult to hold on to him. But in that second phase of the race, where after the Safety Car I was able to keep up with him and we did such a great job with strategy today.
“We were aggressive. I really am proud of the team. I think everyone worked so hard to bring upgrades here this weekend.
“For a second I thought maybe we might just be able to hold on to it but I think that extra Medium tyre they had was just a little bit too strong compared to us.”
Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff also believed at one point that Hamilton had the potential for the victory, but acknowledged it was unlikely after seeing Verstappen’s pace in clean air.
“At some stage, when they [Leclerc and Verstappen] were six seconds behind him and it felt like they can’t really eke out enough, I felt that [Hamilton could win],” Wolff said.
“Lewis had the tyre deficit on the Hard, we simply didn’t have any Mediums anymore, and still holding onto a potential win, it felt feasible at that stage.
“But then once Max was past Charles and he couldn’t fight back, I think it was just waiting for it to happen.”